It’s been estimated that 20% of students have one or more developmental, learning, or behavioral disorders. It is important, therefore, to adjust your teaching practice to suit the specials needs of your students in the classroom. Here are some tips to consider as you do this:
How do I get them started?
Let these students know when you are starting and how long they will probably take to do the task. If possible, stay with them until they finish that initial stage of “I can’t do this” or “Why do I have to do this—it’s stupid.” If the whole thing is daunting for them, break it into small parts.
How do I get them to stay on task?
Clear away as many distractions as possible. Be sure to clean off the desk. Sometimes a student like this actually performs better with a rubber ball to hold. Their tension goes directly into that object. Keep telling the student what a nice job he or she is doing.
How do I get them to stay in their seats?
Make sure your student knows what you expect. This type of child may feel a great need to get up and walk around for a little while. Use this as a reward after a set amount of time following directions. Keep them away from areas of distraction like the door, pencil sharpener, or drinking fountain.
How do I get them to follow directions?
This child doesn’t understand or register subtle hints. You must be direct and clear in as few words as possible. Have the child repeat and explain what he or she is supposed to do. You may also have to go so far as to role-play the direction.
For more tips on working with students with special needs, check out Chapter 3: Working With Special Populations in the Substitute Teacher Handbook.
Here is another series we will be featuring in the next several posts. It’s about working with students with special needs. Educators looking for information on this topic may find this series particularly useful. The information we will provide may also be helpful for substitute teachers to know as it relates to handling unfamiliar students and situations that the substitute teacher is likely to face during his or her career.
In the next few posts, you will find information concerning children with special needs such as:
- Special-Education Students
- Children with ADHD (Attention Deficient Hypertension Disorder)
- High-Achieving Students
- Students from Other Cultures
As you read this series, you might have additional questions. It’s important that you investigate your district’s policies concerning any additional questions you may have.
What Research Says About Working with Students with Special Needs
Research shows that these things Will Help low-academic-level students achieve basic skills:
- Time spent in structured learning activities led by the teacher.
- Breaking down the instruction into small, sequenced activities.
- Plenty of repetition with frequent correction and praise.
- Lots of supervision and help.
- Materials or questions at the student’s success level.
- Many opportunities and much encouragement to succeed.
- Mostly narrow teacher questions with one “right” answer.
- Calling on non-volunteers or using patterned turns to select students to answer questions.
- Immediate feedback (as right or wrong) to students’ answers.
Research shows that these things Will Not Help low-academic-level students achieve basic skills:
- Time spent in unstructured or free time.
- Long unbroken periods of seat work with student choice of activities.
- Little practice or independent practice with prompt feedback.
- Individualized, self-paced instruction and independent work.
- Challenging work in which student will not know most of the answers.
- Few opportunities or little encouragement to answer correctly.
- Mostly open-ended questions.
- Non-academic conversation.
- Selecting only volunteers when calling on students to answer questions.
- Not giving clear feedback to students’ answers.
Stay tuned for more tips on how to work with students with special needs. Please leave any questions or thoughts you have in our comment section.